Newsletter #990

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Another home game, another draw, as Taylor (and Mr Durkin) saved Birmingham’s bacon. Match view tonight from David, together with more on our Phoenix Night last Wednesday.

We also have player views, fan views and requests. We travel along the M62 on Wednesday night for the Liverpool game ahead of Saturday’s 5th round cup clash against Manchester United. The tickets are now sold out for this game.

Finally, but by no means least, we have news on the forthcoming McV 1000.

Next game: Liverpool, away, 8pm Wednesday 11 February 2004

MCIVTA 1000 – SPECIAL EDITION

Some months back your McV team were pondering what to do for the 1000th edition of MCIVTA, and now here we are. It is almost 10 years since Ashley, Svenn and Paul launched MCIVTA and the MCFC Supporters’ website (http://www.uit.no/mancity/) respectively. The newsletter brought ‘Why Blue’ stories, City news, views and opinions to mailboxes worldwide; one of the first Internet football newsletters and City websites. It has led to many friendships amongst far flung Blues, and now has a regular subscriber list of nearly 3,300.

Manchester City Football Club have very kindly agreed to help us mark this special occasion by holding an exclusive Questions & Answer session with our Chairman, John Wardle. This is your unique opportunity to ask John absolutely anything relating to MCFC, and get an insight to what is happening at our Club. John and his colleagues will answer a cross-section of your questions, so time to get your thinking caps on.

Please send your emails to the editor’s usual address with “McV 1000” in the subject line and your name and location; it will be interesting to see just where some of you are these days. We will be taking questions up to and including 4th March in order to give us time to process them.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Heidi <editor(at)mcivta.city-fan.org>

MATCH VIEW I: MCFC 0 BIRMINGHAM CITY 0

Well we thrashed Birmingham 0-0. A combination of brilliant goalkeeping, benevolent refereeing by Paul Durkin and his assistant Robbie Savage, sheer bad luck and a lack of confidence by our strikers contrived to stop us scoring. KK must increase his contributions to the referees’ benevolent fund, I’m running out of other explanations for the perverse decisions we are getting. I remember writing about Marc Vivien Foe that if you have your hand above shoulder height and make contact with the ball in your own penalty area it must be a penalty, particularly if the referee is 5 yards away and looking straight at the incident. Now it seems I should have qualified that with a comment that it’s alright if you are playing against City and the referee is Paul Durkin.

Don’t tell me that these things even themselves out unless you have facts to support that assertion. Yes, Birmingham dug in and employed spoiling tactics (is there a law that makes Robbie Savage untouchable?) and Taylor made some brilliant and some lucky saves but it is in those circumstances where penalty decisions are critical. It’s difficult to criticise City players after this game; Robbie Fowler looked to be feeling the after effects of Wednesday’s exertions and Reyna was a bit subdued but otherwise even McManaman contributed well. Plus point – the three centre backs (Dunne, van Buyten and Distin) along with David James gave us a much more confident feel at the back and I reckon we’ll give away rather fewer goals to crosses.

Let’s hope Dunne’s injury isn’t too serious; watching the incident on TV I noticed Dugarry’s leg go out to knock Dunne off balance as he fell. Perhaps we could have Wiekens as one of a back three when we play against “clever” strikers like V-N, Henry & Owen?

David Lewis <dfl(at)microscopist.freeserve.co.uk>

MATCH REPORT ‘LIVE’: TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 MCFC 4

Talk about Escape to Victory, Mike Summerbee and Sylvester Stallone would have been proud to appear in this blockbuster. The FA should slap a health warning on supporting Manchester City. In fact, I have made a bl**dy big banner that says as much, and I intend to hang it off the East Stand balcony on Sunday.

You really had to be at the game to appreciate the full range of emotions we went through on the night. It was a dry, balmy evening with the temperature touching 13 degrees centigrade, and only the most loyal City supporters made the second journey in four days to north London (1,952 to be precise), and surprisingly I was the only fanzine seller there. None of us were quite sure what our destiny was to be, indeed some friends said they would rather get thrashed by Spurs than Stretford. But as ever, we took our seats on the front row of the upper tier, full of optimism. Little were we to know that the next 90 minutes were to put all those connected with both clubs through the full gamut of human emotions, with these emotions crossing at half-time. Ex-Chairman David Bernstein was sat nearby as the game kicked off, with Arni Arason making his début in goal. As an aside, if you include Kasper Schmeichel’s appearance as an unused sub, the last four City players to appear on the City teamsheet for the first time have all been ‘keepers (Ellegaard, Schmeichel, James and Arason).

As we all know, Spurs scored three first half goals (2nd, 19th and 43rd minutes), and Nicolas Anelka limped off after 27 minutes, being replaced by Macken. After about half an hour there was some trouble nearby as City fans started arguing between themselves; some saying City were sh*te, others demanding for everyone to get behind the team. Taunts of “you’re sh*t and you know you are” from the Spurs fans below simply rubbed salt into our open wounds, and it has to be said that a number of City fans started a “what the f@%k is going on” chant, which wasn’t picked up by the TV microphones. It wasn’t pretty, and the atmosphere along the concourses at half time was despondent, especially once everybody discovered that Barton had been sent off. There were strong feelings that King Kev might walk if City were as abject in the second half, and everybody had a secret empathy with Leeds United’s plight.

As the second half started, City fans did what they always do in times of strife, and sang their hearts out for the team rather than abusing them. When Distin headed in powerfully from a Tarnat free-kick in the 48th minute, the Spurs crowd went strangely quiet, whereas we reminded our Cockney friends that we only had/needed ten men. Rather than backing off and letting teams come at them, City challenged for every ball, and grew in confidence, being rallied by an ever more expectant following. Arason must have wondered what had hit him in the first half, as all three Spurs goals were excellent, but when he made a world class double save at 1-3, I jokingly said to Geoff and Jonathan Homer (who I travelled down with) that “our name was on the trophy”. Then on the hour mark, Bosvelt’s first goal for City (unless the DGC strike it off) would at least give the result some respectability. But instead of keeping control and pushing to kill the game, Spurs aimlessly hoofed the ball forward, playing straight into City’s hands. When Shaunie chipped in the equaliser with ten minutes to go, the City end went mad. What a transformation to how we felt 35 minutes earlier! As is typical of City fans though, we still expected Spurs to score the winner with the last kick of the match. As we prepared for two minutes of added on time, and then extra time, City won possession yet again, and sub. Sibierski fed Tarnat on the left, and his first time cross was met perfectly by Macken, whose header arrowed into the far side of the empty goal past the floundering Spurs Number 2 ‘keeper (well he would have been had Robinson signed from Leeds!).

Words cannot describe how I felt at this point, but I was compelled to wave my City flag at the celebrating players immediately below me. Once the final whistle blew, there was much shaking of heads and hugging and kissing amongst both fans and players, and we all agreed we had probably witnessed the greatest FA Cup comeback of all time, especially considering we had lost our star striker, were 3-0 down away from home, played 45 minutes with 10 men, and without our “ratter”. Though the lower section near the corner flag wasn’t full, the rest of the City section, including the upper tier, was. If you look closely enough at your video of the post-match celebrations, you will see yours truly, including my Union Jack flag bouncing around as SWP came over to applaud us.

There was a lot of tension outside the ground, with unhappy Spurs fans gathering together to confront the jubilant exiting Blues. With intimidating chants coming from the Spurs fans, and stampeding police horses trying to hold them back, the City fans in the lower tier were held back as the police dispersed the angry home crowd. Attempting to sell fanzines was not advisable, so I walked the gauntlet, as I made my way back to the car, which was parked half a mile away. It was brilliant to listen to some of the mobile phone conversations involving irate Spurs fans, and their friends and families. “At half-time we were planning our trip to Man United”, and “The players are sh*te, Pleat’s a t*sser, the Board are w*nkers”, were just some of the comments I heard. Ducking into an off-licence packed with Spurs fans, for a bottle of Lucozade and a bag of Minstrels, one woman, heavily bedecked in Spurs merchandise, turned to me and said “that was unbelievable wasn’t it?”. Trying to disguise my Mancunian accent, I replied “yes”, and left the shop as quickly as possible. It was unbelievable, believe me! The 5 Live phone-in was wonderful, with a mixture of crestfallen Cockneys and mad-for-it Mancs. Just as I was after the 3-2 win at Millwall in December 2001, once again I was on a high as we made our way back along the North Circular and up the motorway to our homeland. Oh yes I almost forgot, Old Trafford in the next round, and 9,000 plus City fans. Bring it on!

Line-up: Arason, Sun, Dunne, Distin, Tarnat, Wright-Phillips, Barton, Bosvelt (Sibierski 80), Sinclair (McManaman 80), Anelka (Macken 27), Fowler.
Unused subs: Ellegaard, Jordan. Booked: Barton (42, 45), Bosvelt (77), Sun (85).
Goal times: 0-1 (King, 2), 0-2 (Keane, 19), 0-3 (Ziege, 43), 1-3 (Distin, 48), 2-3 (Bosvelt, 61), 3-3 (Wright-Phillips, 79), 4-3 (Macken, 90(92)).
Crowd: 30,400.
Referee: Card happy Rob Styles.

Did anybody see my banner at the Birmingham game? It was one of those on the East Stand balcony that proclaimed:

FA Health Warning
Supporting Manchester City can seriously damage your health – City Til I Die!

I understand it got a showing on Sky? Not surprisingly, the slogan came to me on the way back from Spurs!

Steve Kay <steve(at)mcfcstats.com> –http://www.mcfcstats.com

OPINION: VAN BUYTEN VIEW

Eureka – we have found it!

Could my seemingly never ending days in despair soon be over? I honestly think so. The reason for my new-found optimism is Daniel van Buyten. Nice catch, Mr Keegan, well done!

I watched the game versus Birmingham on Swedish TV last Sunday and I was very impressed. OK, Birmingham’s attack didn

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